My thoughts on Game 4 of NLDS after that miraculous Game 3. Wow, both Gillaspie and Panik (and Crawford), Law and Blach. Bochy's gambit of carrying Blach pays off!
Funny thing so far is that the Cubs vaunted offense has actually been pretty silent, it was a trio of flukey hits by pitchers (albeit, big blasts off Arrieta and Wood's bats, and Wood is actually a decent hitter in his career, maybe as good as Bumgarner; Hendricks was really lucky) who contributed most of the Cubs offense so far.
Lackey Has Been Good But Not Ace, Especially On the Road
We have some chance against Lackey, despite 2002, as he's not a young guy anymore. Since he's a righty, as usual, LHH hit him better than RHH, so we have some advantage in that way. He's also been worse on the road in his career, and by a lot (4.37 ERA this season, 4.18 for his career, 4.58 last 7 seasons). And he has given up 8 ER in 9.0 IP in his last two road playoff starts.
However, he's been good in SF, but that was in 2006 and 2009, when he was a younger and a bit better pitcher, plus the last time he pitched in SF, the Giants scored 4 runs off him in 6.0 IP in playoffs two years ago. Plus, most Giants have not hit well against him, and only Nunez has a lot of AB as well as great OPS (1.044) but he's probably not playing. Everyone else has done poorly, but in one or two games.
And while he has a mixed bag in terms of playoff pitching, overall, 3.11 ERA is pretty darn good. Still, 4.00 ERA on the road in the playoffs, and, as noted already, Giants scored 4 runs in 6.0 IP against him in SF for the Cards in game 3 of 2014 NLCS. And that repeats his career pattern of home vs. road, he just does not do as well on the road.
Moore Has Some Good Points
Moore's 2016 Giants ERA is not comparable, but he has a 3.16 ERA in AT&T this season, with 3.0 K/BB and 8.8 K/9, which is comparable. LHH do hit him better, but I think more of the Cubs lineup is RHH. And per PQS, he had 4 DOM starts out of 6, for great 67% DOM.
ESPN noted that he wasn't as good since his near no-hitter vs. LA, but that was skewed totally by 1) his bad start in Colorado, which skews a lot of pitchers, and 2) his poor start vs. LA in LA, when he might have been nervous, probably one of the biggest starts in his career. Take out only COL, and he had a nice 3.44 ERA since that near no-hitter, so he most probably wasn't all that affected by his 133 pitches in the near no-hitter. And in any case, still had 66% Strike thrown percentage since, which is very good.
On top of that, he had a lot of up and down pitching at home at the start of his Giants career, but in his last two starts of the season: 1.15 ERA, 15.2 IP, 17 K vs. 2 BB, only 9 hits, 71% STR%, .400 OPS, against Rockies and Dodgers, and both at home. He's hopefully peaking at the right time. A similar game should put us in the win column.
Today's Game: Lackey is Perhaps Lacking
So my take: Lackey is going to be tough, but so will Moore, most likely. Both have had mixed results in the playoffs, but Moore's was possibly because his arm was already hurting as he got his TJS at the very start of the next season. But Moore has limited experience either way, but still, at least he has gotten over his first time jitters, hopefully.
While Lackey is a good pitcher, he has been bad on the road, particularly in the playoffs, and we have good LHH in Panik, Belt and Crawford (also Gillaspie), plus Pence and Posey hit RHP pretty well too. Still, we do better against LHP, not RHP. However, we have many of the 2014 lineup back, except Pablo and Ishikawa, and possibly Blanco, depends on Pagan's back today. Gillaspie has been making a good impression of Ishikawa's 2014, but Span is no Pablo. And while he's been good against our hitters, he has generally been average to bad on the road, and that should kick in some today.
On top of that, aside from the pitcher's driving in runs, the Giants pitching has been handling the Cubs offense with pretty good ease. Their offense has scored only 5 runs in the 3 games against us, if you take away the pitcher's 6 RBI's. Sure, pitchers do get runs sometimes, but even during the regular season, their pitchers had 26 RBI's, good for third in the NL (Giants were first). Bumgarner and Samardzija each had 9 RBI's, and Cueto and Cain each had 5 RBI's (Cubs leader were Arrieta and Hammel with 7 RBI, Lester with 6 RBI, so Hendricks and Wood were flukes, and that HR was a fluke, as well).
Not a sure win - and, of course, none of them ever are - but I think we have as good a chance of winning as the Cubs do, given Lackey's lacking on the road, plus we have home advantage. And if we win, that's a rematch of Lester vs. Cueto in Chicago.
Good Fortune: Baloney!
The beauty of the ways the Giants win is that while pitching and defense can dominate a game, it results in beautiful randomness where one hitter or another, not the stars, delivers. That gives the illusion that the Giants are lucky, with guys like Ross, Ishikawa, and Gillaspie delivers, that it is good fortune. (if you haven't guessed, I got into it with someone on this, on Twitter)
And sure, there is a lot of randomness in baseball. But given that the Giants had good fortune THREE times in five years, per their argument, it strains incredulity that they got lucky so many times. Unless, of course, you want to take the lame way out as Billy Beane does and say that it's all random luck in the playoffs.
And what wasn't random is how the Giants have been run in the Sabean era. They have planned for the structure of their roster and trading M.O. They have focused the vast majority of their drafting bullets on pitching. Both in terms of first round picks, and in terms of total number of pitchers drafted in each draft. They have also used that pitching to make judicious trades over the years, netting us players like Nen, Livan, Schmidt, Snow, Winn, Pence, Lopez, Pagan, Peavy, among others.
More importantly, the Sabean Brain Trust has been excellent in deciding who to trade and who not to trade. Wheeler is probably the best SP to get away, Foulke the best reliever (Nathan is an asterisk because he was actually a good reliever for us when he was traded, and we did get a good left-handed defensive and offensive catcher in return), and now Duvall might be the best hitter to get away. Look at the list of players we got in trade for pitching prospects, top of all is Schmidt, but also players like Pence, Nen, Livan, Peavy, who have done well for us.
There has been articles over the years discussing how you don't want to trade with Sabean. Making great calls over the years, until the drafts started paying off, once they started losing and getting good to great draft position, netting us Lincecum, Bumgarner, and Posey in consecutive years (and Wheeler in the following year; he netted us a rental of Beltran). Then building a variety of core strengths mostly through player development during this golden championship period.
We have basically had three cores supporting recent good times, overlapping, of course. First core was our starting pitching - Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Sanchez - covering 2009 to 2012. The second core was our bullpen: Affeldt, Romo, Casilla, and Lopez; which covered 2010 to 2014. Third core was our hitters: Posey, Pence, Belt, Crawford, and Sandoval, 2012 to 2014. The common denominator among most of them: they were prospects the Giants developed, with 9 of 13 being home-grown, two free agents, two trades.
And change has been afoot. The starting pitching has gone through a transition, and we are set for at least 2016-17 with Bumgarner, Cueto, Moore, and Samardzija, perhaps longer if Cueto stays with us. The bullpen core started breaking up with Affeldt leaving after last season, and all three are with no contract after this season. I can see Casilla being resigned, not as much Lopez (age and effectiveness) or Romo (probably too expensive contract, he got $9M this year, he would have to take a big cut to stay). Unsure who the new core is, but right now it is Strickland, Law, Osich, Okert, Guerrin, and Blach probably pitched his way into at least long relief, and perhaps into the #5 pitching slot, though if Cain is anywhere healthy and relatively effective, he'll get that final slot given his $20M contract. Some Giants fans like to complain about Cain's contract, but we got all that value from him before he was a free agent, plus also had signed him to a lower long-term extension pre-free agency, so we saved there too. Panik is now part of the hitting core, starting in 2014. It is hoped and assumed by many that Arroyo will join the team sometime in 2017 as starting 3B.
Good fortune that was the result of planning and execution of the plan over the years, building up a strong pitching and fielding team almost every year, supplementing via trade and free agency. Around the main core of Posey and Bumgarner.
And I think people suffer from cognitive bias too. Nobody notices that the team won due to an error or bench player's hit when the pitching is bad enough that instead of winning 3-2 or 2-1, you lose 6-3 or 5-2. That's the flaw in analysis people get stuck on when they push off the Giants feat as "good fortune". Plus they focus on the "luck" of Gillaspie hitting a triple off of Chapman, but how about Arrieta hitting a 3-run homer off Bumgarner? How about that luck? Take away the two plays and the Giants won in a 9 inning game, no crying about luck and good fortune.
So remind me not to engage people on social media. That's what got me into the dark pit with the tweeter. Social media is the opposite for me, I just run into all this bad thinking or just bad (I was just looking at tweets that a lame-boy in Chicago tweeted that were sexually offensive to my of the tweeters I follow, and then he blamed his 15 year old cousin for them; apparently he's on an anti-bullying committee, and realized that those bad tweets might get him let go, but he forgot about all the other tweets ("jokes") that exhibited the same type of sexual offensiveness that dot his twitter timeline for years) and I find myself wanting to be less social. I guess that's why Twitter is sinking while Facebook is growing.